For the EVOLution of Business

Rochester as a Beacon for Conscious Capitalism with Bob Duffy of the Rochester Chamber

Episode Summary

When Bob Duffy began as the President and CEO of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, he recognized that Chambers needed to EVOLve to stay relevant. He implemented some evolutionary (and revolutionary) changes both internally with their own culture and externally through speakers and events to elevate the consciousness of the Rochester business community. In a recent study and initiative to increase collaboration across Rochester's many economic development agencies, the Chamber was tasked with a focus on talent strategy for Rochester and the Finger Lakes region. Bob recognizes that Conscious Capitalism is integral to that strategy: "Any corporation that is all about profits and nothing else will not attract the type of talent you want. To be successful, you need that philosophy...we should be a beacon across the state and across the country." Tune in to this episode to hear about how Bob's time as a police officer gave him the empathy to be a better leader, his path from police officer to Police Chief to Mayor to Lieutenant Governor, how he's elevating the consciousness of business leaders in his current role leading the Chamber and his advice for the future leaders of Rochester.

Episode Notes

[1:00] Reluctantly jumping into politics and running for Mayor of Rochester
"I didn't like the politics, but I loved the public service."
[6:45] Leaving Rochester for Albany as Lieutenant Governor
[10:25] Proudest moment as Lieutenant Governor presiding over the marriage equality vote
[12:15] Coming back to Rochester to lead the Rochester Business Alliance (since rebranded as the Greater Rochester Chamber)
[14:00] EVOLutionary (and Revolutionary) changes both internally and externally at the Chamber to be nimble, bold and ahead of the curve
[18:45] Speakers and events at the Chamber, including IBM’s 30-year Vice President of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs Stan Litow, who said that "businesses need to go beyond checking the box of corporate social responsibility, and instead identify a critical societal issue and connect to actual impact and results to make substantiative change"
Listen to Stan's podcast episode here:
[21:15] Getting the business community involved in advocacy and action - too much time spent discussing the issue and not enough time taking tangible steps
[22:30] Young professionals and the rise of Conscious Capitalism
"Any corporation that is all about profits and nothing else will not attract the type of talent you want. To be successful, you need that philosophy."
[27:00] Learning from Columbus to break down silos and increase collaboration in Rochester
[31:40] Conscious Capitalism as a regional differentiator and talent attraction/retention strategy - Connecting with colleges and young talent, promoting affordability and conscious cultures
[35:30] Being a conscious consumer and supporting companies that give back
Bombas Socks (every pair you buy means a pair gets donated to the homeless):
"I see a sea change coming right now...This is the resting place of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass. There is a spirit of service here. It is a community that has always been different, has always stood up for things. The issue of social justice is so important. We should be a beacon across the state and across the country. I don't think we've galvanized that yet, but I think we're on the path to do that now.
[38:00] What keeps more companies from adopting a more conscious approach to business?
Modeling on local examples like Wegmans, Genesee Brewery, Kodak in the days of George Eastman, trying to lead by example with community service among Chamber employees
Listen to Genesee Brewery Podcast here:
[42:00] Why Bob decided not to apply to be a "Top Workplace" because he didn't think they were ready. "I don't want to look good, I want to be good."
[43:30] Bob's upbringing that emphasized the importance of integrity and hard-work, plus how his time as a police officer gave him empathy and understanding
[47:20] "We don't need to reach down and pull somebody up. We need to take the barriers off their back so that they can get up by themselves."
[48:00] "It's not political leaders that lead the way. It's the person in the neighborhood. The person helping. The person at the ground level. True change comes from your everyday person. The more we can elevate leaders and bring them up, the better."
[49:00] Advice for future leaders of Rochester
[53:00] Advice for aspiring politicians
"You can't fix every ill in the world, but little by little we can get there. People don't expect miracles. They expect follow up, customer service and attention to what they bring up. When you're elected, you serve them. That's something I'd encourage young people to think about because they can and they will change the world."
[56:15] Almost 5 years in to his tenure at the Chamber, what are the goals and vision for the next 5 years?
"We have extraordinary leaders coming up right now. They need to be given an opportunity, given a chance to grow and a chance to be a part of this change."
"The most exciting thing is 'What is the future Chamber of Commerce?' I'm not sure what that is yet. It's going to look different, it's going to be different, it's going to do different things. It's not going to be anything like it was before. That's exciting. For us it's getting the right people in the right position to see the future and help us forge that path."
[1:00:30] On Conscious Capitalism: "What may have been conceptual a few years ago, I think is not only taking hold, it's flying."